A Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting Competitive Analysis

By Svitlana Graves

“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” —Napoleon Bonaparte

When your competitors make mistakes, it makes winning so much easier. But what if it’s you who is making a mistake, while your competitors are off to the races? You won’t know until you figure out what your competitors are up to.

Knowing what the competitors are doing – how they are thinking about the market, what tactics they are using, how they are crafting messages and design – can make all the difference in the battle for the customers’ mind share and conversions.

In addition, competitive analysis can be a treasure trove of conversion optimization insights, yet it often gets skipped. And it’s not just a CRO problem – it is a marketing-wide phenomenon.

A Conductor study of 467 marketers found that nearly three quarters (74 percent) agreed that competitive analysis is “important or very important,” but nearly six out of 10 (57 percent) admitted they weren’t very good at it.

What Is Competitive Analysis?

Competitive analysis is a broad term for the practice of researching, analyzing, and comparing competitors in relation to yourself. Companies do it for a wide variety of reasons – SEO, branding, GTM strategy, etc. – and you can definitely use it for UX and conversion optimization, too.

If you do invest in competitive analysis (CA), you will reap the benefits of clarity and confidence. You can’t beat CA if you want to answer certain types of questions, like:

  • What makes my company unique? How do we stand out?
  • How do my customers think of my company compared to the competitors?
  • How does user experience on my website stack up to the competition?

There’s a great deal to be gained from a thorough, regular competitive analysis – usability insights, design advantages, a more convincing value proposition, and of course, ideas for testing.

First Thing’s First: Set Your Goals

Before you start the analysis – remember the 1st essential truth of competitive intelligence: How one thinks about the mission affects deeply how one does the mission.

The fact that your client, leadership or colleagues believe something about competitors doesn’t mean it is true. We all have blinders on sometimes. So make sure you go in with an open mind.

It is just as important to have clear goals – what decisions will your competitive research impact? Are you looking to refine the messaging? Experiment with the funnel structure? Get inspiration for A/B or MTV testing?

Knowing your goals upfront will help you structure the research to meet those goals.

Getting Started: Who’s Your Competition?

Let’s do this! This is the easiest part of the equation because you should know your industry like the back of your hand. Though that shouldn’t stop you from conducting this step to see if there are new players or if anything has changed with the old ones.

To find out who your top competitors are: